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Surviving the Murky Middle of NaNoWriMo

So, You’ve Survived Week One, Now What? How Do You Keep The Pace Going

During week one, you were all excited and full of joy. You had finally begun writing that novel you promised yourself you were going to start writing three years ago. You made a commitment to writing and stuck to it. Writing everyday, and even if you didn’t make that 1,667 you still did the best you could. But now you are starting to think that you may not meet your personal goal, you may not be able to keep up the momentum or you are stuck on this weird scene and you have no idea what to do. That’s normal. In fact, if you didn’t feel like that while you were writing a novel at least once, I would question it. Sometimes you just need encouragement and that is what I am here for.

So how do you keep pushing yourself through NaNoWriMo? Check out some of what I believe to be the best ways down below.

Word Sprints

Word sprints are timed challenges in which you challenge yourself to write as much as possible. There are three types of word sprints: personal, with buddies, and with NaNo. The personal and group write ins are available on your NaNo dashboard. Click on the pull down tab marked “My NaNoWriMo” and you’ll see “My Word Sprints.” You can challenge yourself to a word sprint, whether it is five minutes to forty minutes but you make the commitment to work towards your NaNo project during that time. Clicking on the “Dare Me” button will give you a prompt. Sometimes it is a bit ridiculous.


Congruently, you can make or join a group word sprint. If any of your buddies have created a sprint, you can join in on the fun. You’ll see more on writing buddies below but it is nice to know someone is writing with you.

Lastly, NaNo does virtual write-ins. And aside from answering questions about the writing process, they usually do two or three prompted sprints. Prompts are always optional. The first is usually five minutes, the second 10, the next fifteen or somewhere along those lines.

It may not seem like it, but a few hundred words here and there each day adds up.

Writing Buddies

What are writing buddies? They are people who are there to help encourage you during NaNoWriMo and with any luck, after it. So, how do you make them? Well, you can make writing buddies in a number of ways. If you know anyone already participating in NaNo, ask for their username and add them. You can also go to local write-ins and if you meet someone and you think that they would be someone who would be a good fit for a buddy you can ask them. You can also add people from past Camp NaNoWriMo cabins to be buddies. Another way is to connect through social media or writing platforms.

Once you have writing buddies, it isn’t enough to just have a list of people, you have to make use of them as a resource. It may sound shady, use them as a resource, but I promise it’s not. Why? Because they will use you. Writers definitely need a community of support and those who participate in NaNo need it more especially when we’re trying to work in writing with school, papers, taking care of families, full-time jobs and more. If they ask for assistance, give it and don’t be afraid to ask for some help in return. I already mentioned how you can participate in sprints with them, one way to get more people to participate is by having people share either their worst or best line.

Writing buddies are a great resource, they act as beta readers and some are even willing to help you workshop after NaNo is over.

Don’t Force Yourself

Breaks are okay. Remember, you don’t have to get to 50,000 words. Maybe you can get 50,000 over two months instead of one. Set a personal goal like you would during a Camp NaNo instead of it is something more achievable for you.

Your work doesn’t have to be perfect. Also, delete nothing. NaNo isn’t about making a novel that is polished and perfect in thirty days. I don’t think that is even possible. The purpose about NaNoWriMo is getting your words on paper because the more words you have down, the more likely you are to keep going and finish. Don’t edit during NaNo, save that for later. Keep your words, no matter how awful they may be and allow them to count towards you total word count. They were words that came from your head, they matter, and they count!

Don’t forget to breathe! Don’t be so focused on writing that you stress yourself out or lose sleep or don’t eat. Take time, relax, read, remember that you have a family and that there is a thing called sunlight that you should check out sometime during the month of November.

Attend Write-Ins

Write ins are fun, you work on your own writing but you also meet other writers and get to hear from them. It isn’t just a networking opportunity but it is also a chance to get inspiration from their cool stories (life stories and NaNoWriMo novels).

How do you find out about write-ins in your region? First, you have to join a region! On your dashboard, click “Regions” and add a home region. I am sure your NaNo ML (Municipal Liaison) has planned at least one a week. I know that we all lead busy lives but I would try for at least two. A change of scenery might be exactly what you need to get you out of that weird chapter where so much happens that even you aren’t sure what happens anymore.

Go, enjoy the company of fellow word nerds and have fun.

Courtesy of NaNoWriMo

Pep Talks

Anyone who is a part of NaNoWriMo has seen the pep talk emails. And the large notices on the dashboard when they go to update their word count. They may seem like spam at first, but they aren’t. Read them. NaNo takes the time to asks published authors for kind words to inspire you, so read them. They help.

Some of the pep talks may not be your speed, just like not everyone enjoys all types of novels. We are all different but I am sure that there is a pep talk out there with the advice that gets you to the next page. And once you get to that page you will keep on going.

Staying Connected on Social Media.

I am not big on social media but reading what people post about NaNo on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook offers a lot of encouragement to writers around the world. Using different hashtags and connecting to other writers out there is just one more way, one way that seems a bit too simple, to help stay focused on whatever goals you set for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Authors who have participated in NaNo are active as well as NaNo staff to answer questions, give prompts and offer advice to the masses.

And then there are those like myself, who are just fellow participants who want to help and push others to meet their goals. So you shall find me here, on Scribophile and on Instagram. You will find me on YouTube as well, but more as a respondent than as an active vlogger. There are thousands of people out there writing, just like you.

Make Use of Sponsors.

Some sponsors make their services available to you during Nano which means you don’t have to wait. I’ve already told you about some of the cool offerings in my post NaNoWriMo Is Finally Here!. And one sponsor is Scribophile, which is a free service that I am a fond member of. It is free, I repeat and NaNo winners get the premium service at a discount. You can read about Scrib in another one of my earlier posts, Scribophile: A Writer’s Paradise. This is where I met a lot of my writing buddies who encourage me during NaNo, act as beta readers for stories that aren’t even a part of NaNoWriMo and more.

Be sure to follow this blog if you haven’t already and follow me on Instagram @Chyina_Powell.

Don’t give up. I know how tiring it gets. You feel as though you’ve done enough or that you have more pressing things that you can be doing but the world needs your novel, regardless of anything you think may be holding you back. The world wants to hear what you have to say. And I am always looking for writing buddies so feel free to add me! I always add back and then you can go and see all of the word sprints I have scheduled and come write with me.

Happy writing!


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